Volume 9

The Signs Of His Coming

F. E. Raven

Page: 328

These scriptures show us, beloved friends, that the Lord had the most perfect knowledge of all that would come to pass in His absence; and they all have in view His coming again; these two chapters are taken up entirely with His coming again. The matter is raised by the question as to what should be the 'sign' of His coming. The Lord speaks about His coming with regard to Israel, and then He speaks of what would fill up the interval of His absence. In the latter part of chapter 25 He has come, and then you get what will take place at His coming.

Now what fills up the interval is what I want to speak of tonight; these things that are spoken of here had not really come at the time the Lord was speaking, the kingdom of heaven did not properly begin till the King was sitting in heaven, that is when the Kingdom really began. In chapter 24 we have the responsibility of the servant while the Lord is absent; their faithfulness would be tested by His coming. In all these parables those, too, that I read last night, we find there is a mixture in the kingdom -- the servants gathered all, "both bad and good" -- and here in the parable of the ten virgins, five were wise and five foolish; the Lord predicts the character that the kingdom would assume in the end. In the one case they are tested by the coming of the King to inspect the guests, and in this one by the coming of the Lord. The one raises the question of their suitability to God, here it is more a question of their suitability to the Bridegroom -- to Christ. It is a principle in the word of God that the end of a thing is seen from the very beginning, and the Lord tells them here what character things would

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have in the end. "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened", etc., that is at the close. It has been noticed that the very same virgins that set out in the beginning are those who are found going in at the end, the truth is constantly presented thus in Scripture. I will just refer back for a moment to the parable on which I spoke last night -- then I will speak on this parable, the parable of the ten virgins.

The coming in of the King to see the guests brought out one thing in regard to the man, he had not on the wedding garment; he had never recognised that the judgment of God was upon him, and the man who has that resting upon him cannot stand before God; if you are going to stand before God it must be in virtue of another's having borne that judgment, Christ "was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification". I cannot stand before God on the ground of my own fitness, but Christ has given me a place in the presence of God. Now that question had never been raised in that man's soul, he had not on the wedding garment: it is so with thousands and thousands today, they have never realised that it is only another who can give them a place in the presence of God. It is "with the heart man believeth unto righteousness" and it will be so with Israel in the millennium, the Lord must be their righteousness; He gives them a place, as He does us in the presence of God. Christ has glorified God, and raised from the dead, He gives us a place in the presence of God. We have to stand in the righteousness of another; in the parable of the marriage supper they were tested in that way; it is a great thing to know on what ground you stand in the presence of God; I can stand there because Christ is there, if He is in the presence of God in resurrection, I can stand there, too: He has become "the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth".

Now I pass on to this particular parable -- chapter 24.

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We know very well that the Lord left His servants here in the time of his absence, and what comes in between that and His kingdom is the "coming of the Son of man". He comes to take up the kingdom under the name in which He suffered; if He takes that name as suffering it is under that name that he will reign, "the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father"; the truth that is concealed is that He is Son of God, but He takes up the kingdom as the Son of man, because that is the name under which He suffered, it is the kingdom of the Son of Man; we wait for the coming of the Son of man; and it is His absence that gives opportunity in a way to faithfulness or unfaithfulness on the part of the servants, faith comes in in that way, they did not hold down their hands. Now we ought to be occupied as those were who were faithful, in ministering to the needs of His household. If people were to be busybodies, I should not say that they were waiting for the coming of the Son of man; but you are to recognise the presence of His house here, and you seek to minister to that house. We should each seek to be doing that; it may not be in very great ways, but still each in our way we should be seeking to meet the needs of His household. Ecclesiasticism sets to work to trade on His absence, and priest-craft comes in, domineering over the servants and eating and drinking with the drunken. For myself I would very much like to be in the rank and file of those who were seeking to meet the needs of His house. It might not be in any great way, perhaps, but still if it might be said as it was to the church of Philadelphia, "thou hast a little strength"; I would like to be little, and in the company of little people, but those who are seeking to minister "Meat in due season", to His household. I think it might well be an ambition of every soul; and on the other hand I would like to steer clear of everything like priest-craft, that would domineer over the servants; popery is the expression

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of that to a very great extent: they have usurped authority over their fellow-servants.

Now I just pass on to the parable of the virgins -- the great point that comes in in the marriage supper is the man's suitability to the King; it is in reference to God, and that raises the question of righteousness; here, it is more a question of suitability to the Bridegroom. What I understand by a Bridegroom is it points to One who has rights; I do not want to raise a thought as to a bride, but simply of what is to be conveyed in the word 'bridegroom'. Now we recognise that Christ has rights, and He is coming again to take up those rights; the Son of man is coming again to take up the kingdom that He has received by divine appointment. He has not yet come, but He is coming to take up that which belongs to Him by right. We are going out to meet Him, we are going to leave the world and we are going forth to meet the Bridegroom; and that is a point of very great moment as to our attitude of soul. Are you quiescent here, just content to enjoy things here in His absence? Then you are not waiting for the Bridegroom; I would just like to turn you to one passage of scripture to confirm this -- @Titus:2:11 - 14; that chapter greatly confirms to me the thought of the bride going forth to meet the Bridegroom; you will find there was the sense of salvation, they were free from God's judgment and the power of Satan, and then there was a certain teaching inherent in grace; what I understand by the 'teaching' of grace is that if you have that in your heart, it must have a corresponding effect upon your practice; and then we get something more, "looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ", in spirit and affection you go forth to meet the Bridegroom; now another point -- you are in that sense to be a "peculiar people, zealous of good works", it is that He might have a claim on a people here; that is the proper attitude of Christians --

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you have the teaching, and what is inherent on that is you are "looking for the great God and our Saviour ... who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works".

Now, beloved friends, I come back to the ten virgins -- it did not take long for the mixture to come in -- five were wise, and five were foolish; five went out in the consciousness that only the Spirit could maintain anything like a spiritual testimony here; and with them were five foolish virgins who trusted to their profession. Now if you go forth to meet the Bridegroom you must be in spiritual accordance with the Bridegroom, and the very first idea in a virgin, is one who is uncontaminated by the world; you have to be purified from the world -- that is the first point, then you are in accordance with the Bridegroom; no one could be in touch with Christ except by the Holy Spirit; He is the "Spirit of Christ" and if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His; it is that which puts you in touch with the Bridegroom. Now, beloved friends, I cannot be waiting here for Christ unless I love Him, it must be "the love of Christ that constrains", it is only by the Spirit of Christ that my heart can go forth to the Bridegroom. How can you maintain the testimony if your heart does not go out to Him? He does not care for it at all unless it is the result of affection to Himself; your heart will not go out to Christ except by the Holy Spirit, but if your heart goes out to Him where He is, then you will have something to maintain the testimony down here. I am purified from the world and my heart goes out to Him; I cannot get the full measure of my happiness until He comes, but my heart goes out to Him where He is, and so I await His coming again. Do you think you could be looking for the coming of Christ unless you had a link with Him? If your heart goes out in affection to Him, then you will be looking

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for His coming, and meanwhile He has entered in within the veil for us, and we have the hope that "entereth into that within the veil".

The Bridegroom comes -- there is delay in His coming, and that gives the opportunity for all ten virgins to go to sleep, they become insensible to the coming of the Bridegroom; they fell under the power of the influences here; but there is one thing -- the wise virgins never lost the Spirit, He at least remained with them. Even in the very darkest days of the church's history, the Spirit remained here, there never would have been a revival at all in the church if the Spirit had not remained here. Now we come on to the close -- the cry goes forth, "Behold the Bridegroom" -- the word 'comes' is omitted by the best authorities -- "then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps" -- then there are those who feel that there is no power to maintain a continuous testimony; there was no continuous power to sustain the testimony, they had no oil in their lamps. If there is no outgoing of heart to the Bridegroom, there will be no power to maintain the testimony down here. If you are to be a devoted people down here, it is only affection to Him that can be the spring of that -- the "love of Christ" constraining. Christ came into death to make manifest His love to us, He has not only expressed to us the love of God, but His own love. If you are constrained by His love, it will be very easy for you to be waiting for the Bridegroom down here; and while you are waiting for Him to be seeking to minister to His household. Well, the cry went out, "Behold the Bridegroom", and "they that were ready went in with him to the marriage", their readiness was simply that they had oil in their lamps. I quite admit that the oil is a type of the Spirit, but what marks a person who has the Spirit is affection for Christ. The testimony for Christ must have its own peculiar character, it is the fruit and result of affection for Christ. It will

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be a great day when Christ has His rights here ... Now the Lord goes on to the parable of the talents; He has left talents behind Him, to every man according to their several ability; it is not only the one who had five, or even two, but there is a man who has only one talent; the Lord takes people up outwardly according to their profession. Beloved friends, do not you think if that man had had any sense of the goodness of the Master that he would have traded with His talent? The great point is to have the knowledge of the Master; what would enable us to be faithful is the sense of the grace and goodness of the Master. There can be no fruit except that which is the fruit of affection to Christ; the point is, have we a sufficient sense of the love of Christ? All along our path as Christians here the Lord is bringing before us His love to us; He came into the death in which I was, and I have been buried in His death, in order that I might come on to His own ground, into His place; and His love will eventually bring us into the Father's house. The love of Christ is wonderful, it touches us all along the line, not only just at the beginning, but all along the way; and it is the love of Christ that is the climax, that we might know "the love of the Christ that passeth knowledge".

Beloved friends, I would like to be in the company of those five virgins; I would like to be uncontaminated by the world, and, too, that there might be more outgoing of heart by the Spirit to Christ in His absence; it is not that I do great things, or that I make a testimony, but I am attached to Christ; neither is it that I have any rights here, but the Bridegroom has, so I make my yieldingness known to all men -- the Bridegroom has rights. Man has begun to think that the world belongs to him, and the end of that will be the antichrist, but what the Christian is doing is he is waiting for the one who has rights, the One who has a perfect right to control everything because "He tasted

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death for everything", and we have a link with that One.

May the Lord give us to be faithful to Him, not only virgins, but that we might be strong in the link of affection for the Bridegroom, that we may be 'ready' so that we may go in to the marriage.